The continued foggy conditions in Kashmir are being termed as worrisome by experts who have cautioned that the phenomenon could adversely impact the Valley environment.
Earth scientist at Kashmir University, Prof Shakil Ramshoo, cautioned that the fog was not just a temporary visual eyesore or a winter discomfort but a “worrisome trend” that should alert the government.
The Earth Sciences Department at the University has been monitoring the levels of aerosols including black carbon and dust particles in the air for the past three years, he said.
“Today the reality is that this black carbon and other particulate matter is increasing and is sometimes worse than Delhi,” said Romshoo.
He said since Kashmir is a ‘bowl’, the black carbon particles settle on snow deposits and glaciers on the mountains, resulting in their fast melting as these particles absorb solar radiation, thus increasing temperature of the glacier deposits.
“This increasing of the aerosols in Kashmir environment particularly during winter owing to burning of horticulture produce is very worrisome and will have long term impact on Kashmir environment.
The present foggy conditions over Kashmir are being linked to increasingly deteriorating air quality, mainly attributed to burgeoning traffic on the roads, burning of horticulture/plantation produce, and deadly emissions from the growing brick-kilns.
Studies have shown that during the past 40 years, Kashmir has witnessed conversion of around 20 lakh kanal agricultural land and in absence of any scientific means to dispose of pruned horticulture/plantation produce, the waste is being burned to produce charcoal.
The Pollution Control Board in Kashmir has been monitoring the quality of air at its four stations–in the industrial areas of Khanmoh, Khrew and Lasjan, and at its Raj Bagh station here.
A senior PCB official said the records show that the air quality has “deteriorated severely” over the years.
He said in Srinagar, the increasing traffic and bad roads were the reason for falling air quality while other factors are brick kilns, crushers, factories and burning of horticulture produce in several areas.
“Fog is a temperature phenomenon and happens when the temperature dips to certain levels, making the deteriorating air quality visible,” said the official.
Medicos also see a connection between aggravating health conditions and the foggy and cold situations during winter.
Chest specialist Dr Naveed Nazir Shah said the smoggy conditions result in health problems especially in asthmatic patients. “It (smog) is very dangerous.
The smog results from mixture of smoke and fog in the air and aggravates the conditions of the patients having a history of chest problems.
Noted pediatrician Dr Kaiser Ahmad said the fog and smog were triggers for the allergic manifestation among children during winters.